Brock University

Dynamics of Change in Rural Labour Markets and Communities: Poverty, Exploitation and Inequalities

These sessions focus on the creation of better sociological understandings of the dynamics of change and continuity in rural labour markets and the communities involved in the labour supply. Papers will be considered which focus on the ways in which labour is being sourced through new patterns of temporary and permanent migration, issues associated with lower levels of training and education opportunities of Canadas rural population, the dilemmas facing potential workers and communities in areas where jobs are in short supply including the problems of investing in skills training in the face of economies with boom and bust cycles; gender and ethnic equity issues; and local/global conflicts over labour sourcing.

Session Organizer: Jennifer Jarman, Lakehead University,


Basic income in a small town: Eroding stigma though universal eligibility

David Calnitsky, University of Wisconsin-Madison,

This paper is part of a dissertation examining the impact of an understudied quasi-experiment from the late 1970s called the Manitoba Basic Annual Income Experiment, or Mincome. For three years, participants in the program were able to access guaranteed incomes equivalent to $18,950 for a family of four. While Mincome took place in three sites, I focus on the “saturation” site located in the town of Dauphin, Manitoba, where all town residents were eligible for Mincome payments.

Using qualitative survey data I analyze subjective assessments of stigma among Mincome participants; as a contrast I analyze similar surveys from traditional welfare participants. Participants willing to join Mincome were not willing to go on welfare, even if necessary, because relative to welfare, Mincome was not perceived as degrading and invasive. In contrast to welfare, Mincome was seen as “more normal” and helpful “for everybody”, not just the very poor. I argue that by blurring lines of demarcation between low-wage workers, unemployed workers, and social assistance recipients, basic income can reduce the barriers to forging solidarities across social categories. This analysis places the erosion of stigma at the explanatory core of the association between the universality of a program and its resilience.


Conceptualizing poverty and vulnerability in Northwestern Ontario: The Case of the New Directions Speakers’ School

Regina Belloso, Lakehead University, Thunder Bay, Ontario,

This paper will discuss the major themes and findings made in a graduate thesis research project on the New Directions Speakers’ School in Northwestern Ontario. Originally created as an avenue for injured workers to get together and share their experiences with each other, this initiative has opened up to assisting individuals living in vulnerable situations which include: lone parents, those who are aboriginal, disabled, low-income, and/or those who have had limited education.  The program has evolved on a much wider scale to combat poverty by giving participants the tools necessary to ‘speak out’ on social justice issues in their communities. Additionally, students gain skills that can be applied to various community engagement opportunities. As a result, this paper will use an intersectional analysis to explore how gender, race, class, as well as (dis)ability have contributed to vulnerability and poverty in Northwestern Ontario. Building on the work of Pierre Bourdieu and Robert Putnam, it will be argued that poverty is not simply about economic measures, but rather a lack in the social and cultural capital that an individual can rely on in times of long-term financial uncertainty.



Great Village, a Community in Crisis: the Political Economy of Staple Industries, Labour and Social Policy in Rural Nova Scotia.

Isaac Gray, Masters Student Carleton University Institute of Political Economy,

This paper will focus on the case study of Great Village, Nova Scotia (population: 300) and the ways in which the Temporary Foreign Workers Programme and changes to Employment Insurance have affected the community.

The paper will be divided into two sections. The first section will use the work of Neil Brenner and Rianne Mahon to examine the historical and contemporary socioeconomic reality of Great Village. It will show that liberal ideology has been institutionalized in the community, and as local industries were forced to close by market forces, the local population has been unable to conceptualize collective forces and have tended to migrate away from the community, rather then imagining new possibilities that would enable them to remain in Great Village.

The second section will specifically address the impacts of the TFWP and the recent changes to EI on the community. Inspired by pervious work by Jane Kelsey, the section will conclude that the goal of social policy in rural Nova Scotia is not, nor has it ever been to make the Nova Scotian countryside self sustained, but rather to maintain a complacent workforce, capable of servicing the province’s staple industries. With that in mind, the TFWP has allowed the state to effectively outsource social services, as the migrants are denied access to Canadian services and thus remain dependent on the services provided by their home countries. Thus, the Canadian state no longer is required to provide social services in order to maintain a rural workforce. Hence the recent changes to EI, which no longer effectively supports seasonal workers.Sadly, the Nova Scotian is now experiencing the most significant outward migration in Canada.


Migrant Farm Workers in Niagara: Knowledge and Attitudes of HIV/AIDS and Sexual Health

Miya Narushima, Brock University , , Janet McLaughlin, Wilfrid Laurier University , , Jackie Barrett-Greene, AIDS Niagara ,

Every year over 30,000 migrant farm workers (MFWs) are employed as temporary foreign workers in rural areas of Canada. The Niagara Region hosts one of the largest concentrations of MFWs. The workers, who hail primarily from Mexico and the Caribbean, are predominantly married men with dependents or single mothers, who leave their families to work as temporary labourers for months at a time, often multiple years in a row. This study was conducted as a part of community outreach to these workers. Using a mixed method approach—survey (n=103) and four focus group with both male and female workers from Mexico and the Caribbean—this pilot study investigated: 1) MFWs’ knowledge about HIV/AIDS and sexual health; 2) attitudes toward condoms and their use; and 3) their preferred sources of information about sexual health. The results suggested that MFWs face specific vulnerabilities to sexually transmitted infections due to various structural and cultural factors, and revealed notable differences between male and female as well as Caribbean and Mexican workers in terms of areas of knowledge and belief, condom use practice, and preferred information sources. The results of this study call for further collaborative research and culturally-sensitive health promotion interventions among these groups.

(word count: 200)


Getting it right in Northwestern Ontario’s ‘Ring of Fire’: IBA’s and community sustainability

Satenia Zimmermann, Lakehead University,

This paper examines the role of Impact Benefit Agreements (IBA’s) between Indigenous communities and Northeastern Ontario’s Victor Mine, Nunavik’s Raglan Mine and Nunavut’s Meadowbank Mine, with a particular focus on the use of IBA’s in promoting community sustainability. Research will show that although IBA’s include monetary payments, as well as provisions for jobs, job training, education, community projects, improved health care and environmental protection issues; IBA’s alone cannot provide what is necessary for sustainability in Indigenous communities.  Rather research indicates the Indigenous communities that have begun to reach promising levels of sustainability are communities that have both Comprehensive Land Claim settlements and IBA’s; and communities that are governed under Traditional Treaty Agreements remain in a state of persistent poverty even when modern IBA’s are implemented.

A multi-theoretical framework was used to examine three key characteristics; Indigenous community location, economic structure and community wellbeing.  The basic framework provided by Immanuel Wallerstein’s World System Theory was used to show how through the processes of [de]colonization, and failed assimilation, Indigenous communities were often created in remote locations, in what I call the peripheral nodes of Canadian society.  Research supports the argument that although Canada’s economy developed at different rates across the country, the Indigenous population of Canada has not seen the same economic development occur.  The lack of economic stability, infrastructure, technology, and education, as well as government policies and the remote location of the majority of Indigenous communities have been detrimental to Indigenous communities, which continue to function as peripheral nodes in Canada’s economy.  Fourth World Theory as defined by George Manuel was used to examine community wellbeing in Indigenous communities.  Data was collected using both qualitative and quantitative methods including previously published articles; Indigenous community financial statements; Canada’s Community Well-Being Index; IBA Index; Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development records on First Nation profiles, Federal Government funding, emergency management, health, and education; Statistics Canada 2006 data on rates of incarceration, death, violence, and drug and alcohol addiction.  The purpose of this paper is not to argue that IBA’s are not an important tool for Indigenous communities located in areas where natural resource development is occurring.  Rather it is to identify issues that may explain why some communities that have benefited from IBA’s continue to endure persistent rates of poverty, while others are beginning to reach positive levels of community sustainability.  By drawing attention to the limited effects of IBA’s for Indigenous communities without Comprehensive Land Claim settlements, as well as identifying other key problems associated with the IBA process, we can make the changes necessary to ensure that we ‘get it right’ in Northwestern Ontario’s First Nation communities and the development of the ‘Ring of Fire’.



© Canadian Sociological Association ⁄ La Société canadienne de sociologie